Welcome New RACC Staff

School’s out and summer’s here! While you’re getting ready to attend the countless arts and cultural events happening these warmer months, we’ve got some new faces at RACC we’d like to introduce you to. Meet the newest RACC staff: Jae, Lokyee, and Yessica:

Photo of Jae ChoiJae Yeun Choi

Jae received her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has taught poetry at Reed College, Portland State University, and the University of Iowa. Her poems have been published in The Volta, A Plume Annual, Tin House, The Iowa Review, and Flying Object’s It’s My Decision series. Her work has also been featured within group exhibitions at 356 S. Mission, 3 Days Awake Gallery, PMoMA, and Good Press Glasgow. Jae calls herself an old hermit, but she loves to hit any road that ends with a lake, volcano, or hoodoo.

What do you do at RACC?                         

As RACC’s Program Specialist for Individual Artists, my role is to program artists’ workshops and develop resources aimed to support artists in our community with foundational tools and skill-building. I also administer a grant program specific to professional development, which provides up to $2,000 for opportunities that will advance an artist’s creative or business practice, like residencies, conferences, classes, or consulting.

What’s your go-to karaoke song?

In karaoke bars, I’m more of a back-up dancer than a singer. But I used to rent karaoke rooms by myself in Little Tokyo, and have a solid field day with Kate Bush, Joni Mitchell, and Rihanna.

What’s a secret talent you have, or little-known fact about you?

I’m a super intuitive person, and think I can predict the future sometimes. I have witnesses.

How is art a part of your life?

I’m lucky enough that every element of my day is totally affected or effected by artists. I’m a poet in my practice and within my communities, but ultimately I don’t believe that art is separable from life, regardless of what you do for work or fun. I’m interested in grappling with the questions of who is coming up with those definitions or boundaries. I love when those definitions get messier and are forced to evolve because they can’t be contained, and I see boundaries as helpful tools to spring away from and should be pressed against.

Complete the sentence: “Arts and culture are  _____________”

I fully believe that arts and culture are a distinct language for each of us to use to address each another as our least diminished selves, eye to eye.


Photo of Yessica AvilaYessica Avila

Yessica is a Los Angeles native from Huntington Park. She graduated from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona where she received a BFA in Graphic Design. After graduating in 2012, she began her advocacy work as a volunteer for the local chapter, the Pomona Valley Bicycle Coalition.

Yessica’s family and personal story as first generation immigrants from Mexico is the motivation for her advocacy work for the undocumented and immigrant community. Her work centers on equity for people of color and underrepresented communities. Her professional experience is grounded in community grassroots for anti-gentrification and anti-displacement.

What do you do at RACC?

I am an Arts Education Coordinator for RACC. I manage the communication and outreach of its program The Right Brain Initiative.

What’s your go-to karaoke song?

Selena- Dreaming of You/ Selena Como la Flor (sorry Selena is just too good to pick one)

What’s a secret talent you have, or little-known fact about you?

I can stipple forever.

How is art a part of your life?

I was very fortunate to grow up in a city like LA where murals narrate the stories of first generation-immigrants (Chicanos). Today, poetry has become my guide to listening to the people of color outside the Mexican hegemony.

Complete the sentence: “Arts and culture are  _____________”

stories and survival of our history.


Photo of Lokyee AuLokyee Au

Originally from Los Angeles, California, Lokyee is second generation Chinese American, whose roots go back to Hong Kong. Coming from a family of cooks and bankers, she is a first-generation college graduate, and recently completed two master’s degrees from the University of Oregon: Environmental Studies and Community and Regional Planning. A creative of color herself, Lokyee is a firm believer in the critical role arts and culture plays in social movements. Much of her professional and personal work intersects with her background in environmental justice, racial justice, policy, and communications.

What do you do at RACC?                                                                     

As the Communications Manager, I keep a pulse on a number of moving parts. Collaborating closely with the Communications and Community Engagement team, we work to strategically communicate RACC’s work, events, opportunities, and more to the many communities we work with and serve.

What’s your go-to karaoke song?

I Want You Back by Jackson 5

What’s a secret talent you have, or little-known fact about you?

I can beatbox.

How is art a part of your life?

I grew up playing the piano and singing in choirs, so music is a big part of my life. I’m also a self-taught illustrator (I call myself an amateur doodler), inspired by plants and whimsy.

Complete the sentence: “Arts and culture are  _____________”

A reflection of our realities, a tangible imagination of what’s possible, and catalysts for social change.

 

Get to know the other RACC staff and board by visiting our staff page